By on January 9, 2015

Pedestrians on Broadway in New York

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan — aimed at ending all traffic deaths by 2024 — appears to be paying off, with a historic low of 132 pedestrian fatalities in 2014.

The New York Times reports the low follows a decade high of 180 such deaths the year prior. Meanwhile, overall fatalities dropped from 293 in 2013 to 248 in 2014, with bicycle deaths climbing from 12 to 20 in the same period, motorcycle deaths falling from 42 to 37, and automotive deaths remaining stable at 59.

The overall decline follows the recent lowering of the city’s default speed limit of 25 mph, a move that had to go through the state legislature prior to approval; the State of New York’s default for the local speed limit is 30 mph. Increased NYPD enforcement of traffic laws, including new ones like Cooper’s Law — which strips a taxi or livery driver of their license if they kill or injure a pedestrian who has the right of way — are also contributing to the decline.

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33 Comments on “New York Pedestrian Fatalities Fall To Historic Low In 2014...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    “Cooper’s Law — which strips a taxi or livery driver of their license if they kill or injure a pedestrian who has the right of way — are also contributing to the decline.”

    You mean this wasn’t already a given?

  • avatar
    energetik9

    I’ve visited Manhattan many times. I don’t claim to know all the nuances of the rules or the 25mph impact, but it seems to me that much of this is tied to common sense. Herd mentatility at intersections is tough, but using crosswalks, looking both ways, waiting for the cross signal seems like it would help greatly. I wonder what percentage of the numbers applies to tourists versus locals.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      The real problem with pedestrian deaths is not in Manhattan, but in the outer boroughs. For example, Queens Boulevard is known as the “avenue of death” with good reason because it is incredibly wide, cars and cabs often double the speed limit and it is a major thoroughfare with lots of bus stops and retail. Simply enforcing the speed limit on this road alone has a big effect on city-wide pedestrian fatalities.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Increased NYPD enforcement of traffic laws? Better not take that victory lap yet, Wilhelm.

  • avatar
    LKre

    I live in Brooklyn and work in Manhattan. The new 25 mph law is universally disregarded by drivers. We either crawl in heavy traffic at 10 mph or speed up whenever lanes open up to compensate for delays. Most of us go as fast as possible whenever we can – 40-45 mph on the streets, 65 on highways – to balance the time lost in a jam we just got out of or to compensate for an inevitable jam that’s coming soon. Over time, we become neurotic, impatient drivers acting aggressively toward everyone. We perceive speed below 40 mph as slow. We rush yellow and red lights. I made a fast turn when the yellow was expiring just this morning, wet snow notwithstanding. The only exception for NYC drivers is pedestrians crossing an intersection with small children. Drivers still cut them off when making a turn, if they can, but exercise significantly more caution and judgment than otherwise. The city is just too packed to drive differently.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      So, pretty much like D.C., L.A., Chicago, Philly, Boston… Ok, got it!

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      LKre

      That’s my experience as well. No one is paying any attention, and boy will there be a lot of noise once those camera citations start coming in. For what it’s worth every cab I’ve been in over the last few months has mentioned the cameras and new limit to me as a pure money grab.

      Actually, I haven’t actually met a New Yorker who considers the program anything but a money grab. You see comments in support online, in letters to the editor etc… but never in person. If it wasn’t for the protests and the NYPD the mayor would be in the hot seat right now over the issue. If anything the slowdown might end up doing the expanded camera program a huge favor, which sucks.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      sigh…repeating my comment.

      I agree no one is changing their behavior. If it wasn’t for the NYPD slowdown news I think the Mayor would be facing a lot of flack for the expansion of the camera program and the reduced limit right now. I haven’t met a single fellow New Yorker who thinks this is anything but a pure money grab. I’ve seen comments online and in letters to the editor, but nothing in person. But then, I also don’t share hallway space with the crusty old ladies of the upper east side, who’s letter writing campaigns apparently dictate NY city policy.

      If anything the NYPD slowdown may eventually be used as a justification for the whole scheme. Which is a real shame.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      From a visit to Gotham in July 2001, my one and only so far (a layover at Newark prompted the group I was in to take a van tour of lower Manhattan, including a walk-through of the lobbies of the Empire State AND :: shudders :: the WTC tower next to the Marriott), I seem to clearly recall that each car’s HORN is also a certified traffic-control device!

  • avatar
    EAF

    This claim that Vision Zero has had a quantifiable impact on pedestrian fatalities, in the year 2014, is complete nonsense.

    1. The 25mph speed limit was very recently implemented, on the 7th of November 2014.

    2. De Blasio’s press conference, where he spouted anti-cop rhetoric, occurred on the 3rd of December 2014.

    3. In a show of opposition to his idiotic aforementioned press conference, ticketing from traffic enforcement are down, by some reports, as much as 90%. No one is out there enforcing the lower speed limit!

    4. Vision Zero requires all city employees to take a prescribed course, it is very much trivial and a complete waste of time.

    What I’m trying to say is; any fluctuation in NYC pedestrian fatality figures, may be better attributed to astrology than to The Mayor’s Vision Zero plan.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Please quote the “anti-cop rhetoric” De Blasio allegedly “spouted.”

      The police union already didn’t like him for reasons having nothing to do with anything he said in the last few months, and they’re just using officer deaths as an excuse to lash out. It’s unprofessional, whiny, and shows a mentality that the cops, not the elected civilian leaders, should be in control.

      • 0 avatar
        EAF

        The union had an issue, early on, with what was the centerpiece of De Blasio’s mayoral campaign. In a ploy to gain support, he labeled stop-and-frisk policy as fundamentally unfair and then subsequently accused the department of enforcing it discriminately.

        I don’t want to get into a 1000 post discussion on racism but here is the thing, New York City can thank its moniker of “safest big city” to stop-and-frisk almost exclusively. The policy undoubtedly WORKS!

        Type “anti-police rhetoric” on Youtube and stream the audio to listen for yourself. By the way, I don’t support a Police State either.

        It is too early to tell if Vision Zero will work in NYC, certainly too early to attribute any effect on 2014. It has been effective in Sweden (initiated), France, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, etc.

        What do you guys think about the speed trap cameras?

        • 0 avatar
          tedward

          EAF

          Stop and Frisk, if embraced as a long term police strategy as opposed to a temporary tactic, has also brought us to the point where we are now. Riots could for real happen. We haven’t had them in NY recently (there have been small flare ups for the last two years leading up to the election however) because the political class is leading the protests, and because Ferguson happened first. We are super lucky.

          On the street level I’d say there’s no difference between stop and frisk, broken windows and other “arrest everyone for everything” initiatives. Extremely effective in the short term, extremely dangerous in the long. Just like any other policing tactic.

        • 0 avatar
          tedward

          EAF

          I’ve had two comments eaten on this already but here we go again. I haven’t met a single fellow NY’er who thinks the cameras + lower limit are anything but a blatant cash grab. I’ve seen comments online and in letters to the editor in support of it, but never in person. Every cab ride I’ve taken in the last few months has featured a discussion about the new rules and how it was nothing but a money making scheme.

          The NYPD slowdown and related protests are doing the mayor a huge favor in deflecting conversation away from “vision zero” based on my purely anecdotal experience. There will be hell to pay, however, when those camera tickets start rolling in. I’ve already had several locations pointed out to me that are obviously dangerous and financially motivated (highway off ramps.)

          • 0 avatar
            EAF

            I have to concede to everything you’ve stated. Riots would obviously be terrible, but so would a reversion to a circa 1995 NYC. I would hate to see our City regress because of a threat of civil uprest or fear of being accused of racial bias.

            I hate when comments get eaten, navigating TTAC on my phone makes it that much worse when it happens!

    • 0 avatar
      50merc

      EAF, how dare you disrupt the narrative with facts.

    • 0 avatar
      an innocent man

      “Spouted anti-cop rhetoric” = “told the truth.”

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      You should have read the article:

      “In addition, the police have strengthened enforcement against dangerous driving, increasing summonses for speeding by 42 percent and for failure to yield to pedestrians by 126 percent, city officials said. More than 117,000 drivers were given summonses for speeding last year, compared with about 82,000 in 2013.”

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I wonder what the fatality rates were when I was a sprout there long ago ~ I learned early on (like by age 5) that either you the Pedestrian looked the hell out , or YOU DIED .

    It’s pretty simple and the nice trade off was : no one , not even the Cops , cared if you jay walked as long as you were paying attention and stepping lively .

    As mentioned, common sense helps a lot here , too bad so few have any .

    I thought the little black death kills were supposed to be hand painted on the driver’s door just below the window…

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      bomberpete

      I live in Brooklyn and I’ll say this:

      1) Vision Zero is working but it’s not because of the cops. I’d say better markings, lights, crossings are more of a factor.

      2) Bunkie is absolutely right about Queens Blvd., Atlantic Ave. in Brooklyn and Queens, and several other broad streets where 25mph is currently being laughed off. With good reason, because….

      3) ….for all intents and purposes, the NYPD isn’t writing tickets currently to show the Mayor that he’s not in control. While they are being immature brutes, the point has been made.

      4) If you want to murder someone in NYC, the best way to do it is mow them down with a car. The most common police comment for someone killed by a car is still “no criminality suspected”

  • avatar
    JD321

    Like his buddy Stalin “No people – No problems”

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    Pedestrian fatalies are up everywhere. In my area they almost approach DWI fatalities which I didn’t think possible.

    It requires actual hands-on law enforcement to improve. They would rather have red light and speeding cams or high-overtime low impact DWI checkpoints.

    • 0 avatar
      bomberpete

      Before the current slowdown, the NYPD’s unions didn’t want red light and speeding cams. They knew it would take from their overtime/manpower pay. They have a powerful ex-cop ally in the state legislature who killed it.

      Given how dysfunctional and corrupt things are in Albany, I don’t think anything will change soon.

  • avatar

    I live in NYC too.
    The 25mph is not the main reason, it’s the way city streets are changing, all the avenues with green light force you to go 25mph, you can go faster but you will hit red lights.
    The change to many intersections with dedicated lane and traffic light for left turn.
    The reduction of travel lanes, every avenue lost at least one travel lane that was replaced with a bike lane or just a concrete island (West End Ave).
    Broadway use to have 3 or 4 lanes, now it’s one or two.
    It’s now became a nightmare to drive in Manhattan in mid week during the day time hours and it will continue until Manhattan will eventually be a bike city.

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      For years it was assumed that the majority of Manhattan traffic was from outside the city….Jersey mainly. Comprehensive studies show that most people driving in Manhattan on a workday are actually from the outer boroughs, and most of those people have mass transit options to get into Manhattan, but consider themselves too special to mix with the hoi polloi.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Removing traffic lanes is an effective way to slow down traffic. Drivers naturally respond to narrower roads by reducing their travel speeds.

      Low speed limits by themselves don’t do much good; drivers tend to ignore them. But engineering the roads to encourage lower speeds does work.

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    Before I retired and drove into the big apple every day. One of the routes I took was Queens Blvd. The valley of death. 10 years ago the city built a fence on the center divider to keep people from crossing in the middle of the street. Now they run and jump over the fence. One morning an old lady was crossing the Blvd with a walker and stopped at the fence and put the walker over then climbed over the fence to the other side and went on her way. It was quite a sight. Nothing stops people in NYC. I watch them talking on their cell phones crossing as the light changes and still talking away. I live in Queens near the Nassau border and in the morning traffic on Jericho Turnpike (limit 25 MPH) is doing 45-50 MPH.
    And to answer why people drive to Manhattan when we have the subway system. The system is over 100 years old and runs like a 100 year old system!

  • avatar
    an innocent man

    Could last year’s cold and snowy winter have had any impact? Colder weather causing less foot travel, and snowy/icy weather slowing down auto traffic. Plus schools closed more days than usual, and even on days with just school delays, do you push student walkers into a time frame when there’s less vehicle traffic to interact with?

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